• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Obama White House Thinks It Can Kill Americans In America

Predator Drone

One of the unanswered questions arising out of the Obama Administration’s assertion of the power to order the assassination of American citizens residing overseas who are believed to be involved in terrorism or other violent acts against the United States has been the question of just how far the power extends. For example, recently, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul sent an inquiry to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him if the power being asserted by the Administration would potentially include similar actions against Americans here in the United States. Holder’s response is rather chilling:

President Barack Obama could order the use of deadly force against an American inside the United States, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) released Tuesday.

Paul and other senators had asked various administration officials whether deadly drones strikes like the ones the U.S. carries out in Pakistan, Yemen and other foreign countries could ever be used in the U.S. Paul said he would seek to block the confirmation of John Brennan as Central Intelligence Agency director if the question was not answered. (Brennan’s nomination was endorsed by the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday afternoon in a 12-3 vote.)

In the one-page letter dated Monday, Holder said: “The U.S. government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so.” The attorney general argued that law enforcement is best suited to resolve such threats “in this country.”

However, Holder says that in situations akin to the 1941 assault on Pearl Harbor or the September 11, 2001 attacks, the president might have to order the use of deadly force in the U.S.

“The question you have posed is entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no President will ever have to confront,” Holder wrote. “It is possible, I supposed, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the President could concievably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.”

Paul said in a statement that he was deeply disturbed by Holder’s views.

“The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening – it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans,” Paul said.

Holder’s invocation of Pearl Harbor is, of course, a complete non sequitur. That was a military attack on the United States by a foreign power. If, theoretically, the United States had gotten advance notice of this attack, it would have quite obviously have been completely appropriate and justified to undertake an attack to destroy, cripple, or repel the attacking force. Similarly, if NORAD had somehow figured out what was really happening on September 11, 2001, it would have been entirely justified for them to shoot the planes out of the sky. And one can come up any number of scenarios that would justify the President authorizing using the use deadly force to prevent an imminent attack. Additionally, there are countless numbers of scenarios where law enforcement would be perfectly authorized to use deadly force against a suspect and in which nobody would question the decisions that were made by the officers on scene.

However, I would suggest that this isn’t really what Paul’s letter was directed at, which is why Holder’s response raises someone concern.

The incident that has resulted in the death of an American citizen overseas on Presidential order is the case of Anwar al-Alwaki, who had been living in Yemen and involved with that nation’s al Qaeda affiliate, an allegation that I think has been fairly well proven. At the time al-Alwaki was killed, however, he wasn’t, as far as we know, involved in an imminent  attack on the United States or American interests. Although there doesn’t seem to be any doubt about his involvement in past incidents, there was no evidence at the time that the order to kill him was carried out that he was about to order, or carry out, an attack on either. Therefore, it strikes me that trying to analogize this incident to either Pearl Harbor or a law enforcement incident involving the justifiable use of deadly force. Therefore, Holder’s legal prevarications don’t strike me as being very convincing at all.

The question that we all deserve an answer to, I think, is whether the Administration sees a day where Predator drones are roaming American skies looking for American citizens to strike at, regardless of the reason. Because if that’s the future they see, it certainly isn’t a future I want to be a part of.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. David K. says:

    US Constitution: Article 1: Section 9:

    The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

    This is not a new or unique interpretation and both Pearl Harbor and the Civil War are prime examples. Obama is not saying he intends to start drone striking American’s on a regular basis, he’s saying that it falls within the President’s power under EXTRODINARY circumstances where such a thing is technically possible. This isn’t the end of your freedoms or America become some totalitarian dictatorship. Its acknowledging a reality laid out in the Constitution itself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Doug:

    Premise: It’s 2020, a rogue colonel at Ft. Belvoir decides the president is evil and must be overthrown. He runs a column of tanks toward Washington. There are no countervailing forces available in time. The colonel and his men are all American citizens.

    Can we hit the column with drone attacks? Wouldn’t we use helicopters legitimately? Whose authority would be invoked if not the president’s?

    Unlikely — as Holder said. Not impossible.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 6

  3. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Holder might be a corrupt political hack, but people don’t graduate from Columbia Law School by accident and Holder sure as hell is no dummy:

    ‘The question you have posed is entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no President will ever have to confront,’ Holder wrote. ‘It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the President could concievably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.’

    Obviously.

    Of course you can’t rule out anything when it comes to genocidal Islamic terrorism. If it becomes absolutely necessary to start offing U.S. citizens domestically, then that’s what the government will and should do. Period. End of story.

    Legally speaking the government in the 1940’s was in essence found to have had the right to put Japenese-American citizens into de facto concentration camps. And those people weren’t strapping explosives to their bodies and acting as suicide bombers to get tickets to paradise.

    And in war the gloves often are taken off. Sherman razed entire cities. Hell, Sherman razed entire regions. Lord Kitchener slaughtered civilians, caged women and children, massacred livestock, to cut off food supplies. Burned entire villages to the ground. In WWI the powers waged escaling and reciprocal chemical warfare. In WWII every power waged unrestricted submarine warfare on merchant civilian ships, often those which flew “neutral” flags. You can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs.

    Now, obviously, given the demographics of the Internet, that sort of reality won’t and can’t be processed. Simply will not compute. But fortunately the demographics which disproportionately are represented on the Internet don’t actually make these decisions. At least not yet.

    Kudos to Holder and Team Obama for having the brains and the cojones not to give into the naivete and mental weakness of the milquetoast brigades.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 13

  4. Andy says:

    Similarly, if NORAD had somehow figured out what was really happening on September 11, 2001, it would have been entirely justified for them to shoot the planes out of the sky.

    So the government is “entirely justified” in killing a couple hundred Americans if it means many hundreds might be saved? Can you provide a legal justification for that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  5. Steve Verdon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Premise: It’s 2020, a rogue colonel at Ft. Belvoir decides the president is evil and must be overthrown. He runs a column of tanks toward Washington. There are no countervailing forces available in time. The colonel and his men are all American citizens.

    An open and armed insurrection is, again, not quite what Senator Paul was asking about, open armed insurrection, but about something clandestine. So, to use your “what if” approach…

    Premise: It is 2020 and it believed that a group of people at a house in Lancaster, CA are plotting a terrorist attack, could the President order a drone attack on the house? Even knowing that the people in that house are American citizens.

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    If it becomes absolutely necessary to start offing U.S. citizens domestically, then that’s what the government will and should do. Period. End of story.

    Given that the U.S. government often screws up pouring piss from a boot with the instructions on the bottom the problem is that it would almost sure end up blowing up innocent American citizens, just as we have almost surely murdered innocent American citizens via the death penalty.

    We have already turned most police departments into paramilitary forces in this country. You are basically shrugging your shoulders about what would basically complete the transformation.

    Legally speaking the government in the 1940′s was in essence found to have had the right to put Japenese-American citizens into de facto concentration camps. And those people weren’t strapping explosives to their bodies and acting as suicide bombers to get tickets to paradise.

    1. That is a disgusting racist blemish on the U.S. and the U.S. legal (bahahahaha) system.
    2. There is a wide difference from depriving a person of liberty and property without legal proceedings and killing them.

    And in war the gloves often are taken off. Sherman razed entire cities.

    People like you should be kept as far away from power as possible…sadly, that is rarely the case.

    Kudos to Holder and Team Obama for having the brains and the cojones not to give into the naivete and mental weakness of the milquetoast brigades.

    Fantastic job showing your lick spittle nature.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  6. Steve Verdon says:

    So the government is “entirely justified” in killing a couple hundred Americans if it means many hundreds might be saved? Can you provide a legal justification for that?

    Government does it all the time, what is the problem. Setting the speed limit on the freeway to 65mph means that people will almost surely die. And they do this merely for the sake of convenience. With an attack, I can easily see how one would do the calculus and deciding to shoot the plane down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  7. Steve Verdon says:

    @David K.:

    This isn’t the end of your freedoms or America become some totalitarian dictatorship. Its acknowledging a reality laid out in the Constitution itself.

    It certainly is the end of your freedoms if you aren’t a terrorist and get blown up.

    The power government has in taking the lives of its own citizens is its most feared and terrible power, but you have people like Tsar Nicholas who are almost blasé about its use. Given that government routinely makes a mess out of things, the willingness to use this power and the indifference many display towards the use of this power is disquieting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  8. Andy says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    An open and armed insurrection is, again, not quite what Senator Paul was asking about, open armed insurrection, but about something clandestine. So, to use your “what if” approach…

    I don’t think that’s quite right. AQ is still, as far as I can tell, an enemy of the United States and Congress has not revoked Presidential authorization to engage in warfare against that enemy through the instrument of military force. Is that really different from an insurrection given that legal sanction to use military force would be similarly derived? If the President could order a drone to kill a rebel leader in the US as part of putting down an insurrection, why would the President not have the authority to do the same to a member of AQ (or any political organization at war with the US) who happened to be a citizen? In both cases the US government is taking action against enemies.

    The difference is that AQ has no military forces in the US, therefore there is no need or justification to use the instrument of military force against a member of AQ in the US.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  9. michael reynolds says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    Premise: It is 2020 and it believed that a group of people at a house in Lancaster, CA are plotting a terrorist attack, could the President order a drone attack on the house? Even knowing that the people in that house are American citizens.

    The answer is no. Other alternatives exist. Which is why Holder said it was an extremely unlikely scenario.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  10. Andy says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    Government does it all the time, what is the problem. Setting the speed limit on the freeway to 65mph means that people will almost surely die.

    I fail to see how speed limit policy is at all equivalent to the US government making a deliberate decision and action to kill Americans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  11. Steve Verdon says:

    @Andy:

    The difference is that AQ has no military forces in the US, therefore there is no need or justification to use the instrument of military force against a member of AQ in the US.

    If it is that simple why not just come out and say it, why all the mendacious nonsense like talking about Pearl Harbor or 9/11?

    @michael reynolds:

    The answer is no. Other alternatives exist. Which is why Holder said it was an extremely unlikely scenario.

    That is not what Holder wrote thought. Granted he didn’t write, “Yes,” either. That he can’t take a stronger stance in the negative is what is disquieting…especially when “nuking terrorists from orbit” even inside the U.S. is just peachy with some people (e.g. Tsar Nicholas…heh, rather lives up to his namesake doesn’t he)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  12. Steve Verdon says:

    @Andy:

    The government makes speed limit policy knowing full well that setting the speed limit at 65mph will kill people (the law of large numbers and all that). The only distinction is that the deaths attributed to speed limit policy are random while drone strikes…are…well I guess we can’t say “not random” given that drone strikes have killed innocents over seas too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  13. Eric the OTB Lurker says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Kudos to Holder and Team Obama for having the brains and the cojones not to give into the naivete and mental weakness of the milquetoast brigades.

    I find it completely ironic that the same individuals who post here daily complaining about how incompetent government is and how incapable it is at delivering any service are suddenly all for entrusting it with the power to kill American citizens without much due process.

    Guess a conservative has to have his bloodlust, eh, Tsar?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  14. Davebo says:

    There are other manifestations of use of deadly force besides drone strikes and of course Holder never mentioned such strikes. Not that it matters really. If you’re killed from a hellfire fired from a drone or an Apache you’re still dead.

    I don’t believe Rand Paul thinks it’s conceivable that the US would start firing missiles from drones in the US. But he knows for sure many of his supporters worry about such things and he’s got to throw them a bone from time to time.

    His Dad never got out of the House. Rand went straight to the senate. Why? That stuff works in some states.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  15. Andy says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    If it is that simple why not just come out and say it, why all the mendacious nonsense like talking about Pearl Harbor or 9/11?

    Good question, one I don’t have the answer to.

    The government makes speed limit policy knowing full well that setting the speed limit at 65mph will kill people (the law of large numbers and all that).

    There’s a really big difference between government policy which must balance restricting people’s freedom to drive how they wish with public safety concerns and government outright killing people. Negligence isn’t the same as first degree murder.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. michael reynolds says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    I don’t think Holder or Obama is responsible for what Tsar thinks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  17. Ben Wolf says:

    Well, at least it’s in the open now: a President has claimed authority to suspend all Constituional protections if he/she “determines” someone is a “terrorist” representing an “imminent threat”. And the evidence on which that determination is based can be kept secret.

    Limited government is dead and Americans are dancing on its grave.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 9

  18. michael reynolds says:

    It’s sad when paranoia cripples otherwise bright minds.

    Holder very clearly states that this is all unrealistic. He’s answering a letter from an unbalanced man and trying to treat him as rational.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Oh for God’s sake.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  20. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: You’re being too rational. This is not about “a” President launching “an” attack, it’s about “this particular (n-word)” President launching an attack during the next four years.

    Cue Doug’s sanctimonious “I’ve always been against…” in 4…3…2…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  21. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Steve Verdon: I’m not seeing the connection between 65 mph speed limits and governments justifying killing people all the time. I’m not surprised, you understand…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Andy says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    A declaration that this or any President might be able to do something given very vague circumstances is a lot different from actually exercising such power.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  23. Ben Wolf says:

    @michael reynolds: Yes, let’s not bring up facts like secret evidence, secret kill lists and subservient courts which refuse to reign in executive over-reach. We’ll just maintain our faith that President Obama would never misuse such powers, nor will any other President elected in the future. They are all honorable men.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  24. Steve Verdon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Not really. He just could have said, “No, that is not an option open to the President.” Instead Holder had to drag in complete a complete non sequitor regarding Pearl Harbor and 9/11. It is like this:

    Joe: Do you think Bob was right to yell at Roger?
    Sam: No, I don’t think it was right for Bob to go to Chick-fil-A.
    Joe: ????

    Sam is clearly not talking to Joe…he is having a made up conversation.

    And given that the U.S. government has killed its own citizens in the past, I don’t think it is paranoia to look into this issue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  25. Ben Wolf says:

    @Andy: Actually the very auggestion a President has this sort of power should be setting off sky-scraper sized alarm bells but Democrats in the “reality-based community” which stands in stark contrast to Republicans (or so we’re repeatedly reminded by commentors here at OTB) are falling over themselves in their effort to embrace a policy which the most radical conservatives approve of, and which even George Bush and Dick Cheney dared not suggest.

    But it’s ok; no President would ever abuse such powers because American politicians are all selfless, trustworthy, thrifty, brave and committed to Doing Only The Right Thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  26. Steve Verdon says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    It is simple:

    Setting the speed limit at 65mph will kill people. This is pretty much a fact given the large number of drivers and the probability of fatal car crashes.

    So, government is basically saying, “the expedience of having the speed limit set at 65mph is worth that loss of life.”

    Now, for drone strikes the government is saying, “The benefit of taking out these terrorists within the U.S. is worth the risk of possibly killing innocent citizens.”

    Both accept the loss of life in obtaining a goal.

    The difference between the two is that most Americans would also come to the same conclusion regarding the speed limit as a personal matter. That is, most would say, “The chances of me dying in a car crash are very low, so I’ll take the risk.” Note that there is also the element of people making decisions here as well.

    A drone strike on the other hand an innocent citizen does not get any say in the decision making process which is why some people find it disquieting that there is possibility this could become a reality.

    And keep in mind my response was to Andy’s comment,

    So the government is “entirely justified” in killing a couple hundred Americans if it means many hundreds might be saved? Can you provide a legal justification for that?

    My point is the government is fine with a policy that results in many deaths simply for the sake of expediency, so why is hard to think the government might not have a big issue with shooting down an airliner it thinks will kill an order of magnitude more people?

    But do continue reveling in your own obtuseness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  27. Steve Verdon says:

    Oh and keep in mind that 50 years ago the idea of the police having machine guns, flash bang grenades, body armor, and bearcats, evne in small towns that have a murder once ever 20-25 years would have been laughable. Now…it is common.

    The police are becoming increasingly militarized and people are becoming more and more comfortable with it…even thinking it a good thing.

    So the idea of armed drones over the U.S. doesn’t strike me as all that paranoid. Especially considering this event.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  28. michael reynolds says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    If I had a dollar for every time someone has declared American democracy dead in just my lifetime I’d be rich.

    No one is killing anyone. Presidents have always been able to deploy forces against extraordinary domestic threats, whatever the law said, as a practical reality. You don’t think we could fire on a coup-in-progress? Please. Say a crazy Air Force officer decides to fly a jet into the WH, can we blow him up? Or do we need to arrest him in mid-air?

    If tomorrow some bizarre and extraordinarily unlikely threat develops I hope the president, whatever president, uses drones, helicopters, space ships or whatever.

    This is political paranoia blended with Luddite paranoia over drones.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  29. michael reynolds says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    How is a drone different from a helicopter?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  30. Steve Verdon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Don’t be stupid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  31. Andy says:

    @Ben Wolf: Well, I don’t assume Presidential freedom of action. Bush was able to do what he did thanks to Congressional sanction. Those authorizations are still in place, but they could be revoked should Congress choose to do so. Congress is a dysfunctional mess, but I doubt they would sit by and allow the President to conduct drone strikes on American soil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  32. michael reynolds says:

    @Steve Verdon:
    Meaning you don’t have an answer. So I’ll tell you: one has a pilot inside, the other has a pilot somewhere else. That’s it. Legally a drone is no different than a helicopter. Of course, a helicopter is just a flying squad car. And a squad car is just a horse without the poop.

    You’re all freaking out in an orgy of technophobia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  33. Andy says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    So the idea of armed drones over the U.S. doesn’t strike me as all that paranoid. Especially considering this event.

    And how did that turn out for the government? What makes you think they are eager to make a repeat performance with a drone?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  34. Steve Verdon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    If I had a dollar for every time someone has declared American democracy dead in just my lifetime I’d be rich.

    Where did Ben write that? I see where he said limited government is dead, but that is a different thing. Nice job at being mendacious there.

    No one is killing anyone.

    Really? Even if we limit it just to U.S. Gov’t policy abroad this statement is not true. The U.S. kills people in other countries all the time. The U.S. government kills people within the U.S. routinely too (e.g. the death sentence).

    Presidents have always been able to deploy forces against extraordinary domestic threats, whatever the law said, as a practical reality. You don’t think we could fire on a coup-in-progress?

    Learn to read. I never said anything like this. You cannot quote any comment by me in this thread that would lend any support to this line of Bravo Sierra you are shoveling.

    Or to put it differently, of course the U.S. government could respond with deadly force to a coup, an invasion, or a revolt. That isn’t what we are talking about. We are talking about the kind of drone strikes currently be carried out outside the U.S. being possible within the U.S. If the answer is an unequivocal no, then why can’t Holder say that. Why drag in nonsense that isn’t “on topic”–e.g. an attempted coup. For that matter why are you?

    Say a crazy Air Force officer decides to fly a jet into the WH, can we blow him up? Or do we need to arrest him in mid-air?

    Don’t be stupid.

    This is political paranoia blended with Luddite paranoia over drones.

    Moron.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  35. Steve Verdon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Of course I have an answer moron. One is manned the other is not. There are mechanical differences in that drones don’t usually do vertical take offs and landings. Drones also can’t carry substantial payloads (aside from armaments) either.

    You are, however, being stupid in that you are arguing about something we f*cking agree on you retarded fool.

    Let me say it again since you apparently can’t read for sh*t despite being a writer.

    Use of drones against a coup attempt: I’m fine.

    Use of drones against an invasion of the U.S.: I’m fine.

    Use of drones against an armed revolt: I’m fine.

    What I’m not fine with, and it would be nice to get a straight answer is: Use of drones against American citizens inside the U.S. in circumstances similar to the use of drones against Americans citizens outside the U.S.

    Your attempts to divert the conversation to a discussion of a coup is just stupid. It makes you look stupid. And you are doing it deliberately so I have no problem calling you a stupid fool.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 13

  36. Steve Verdon says:

    @Andy:

    Badly.

    What makes you think they are eager to make a repeat performance with a drone?

    Arrogance, a belief that it can be done with “precision” and little danger to innocents.

    And even if they limited to very narrow instances–e.g. a lone cabin miles from anyone else…what if they got the wrong information? What if the people inside are just hermits and a bit odd, and aren’t terrorists?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  37. michael reynolds says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    Did you even read Holder’s letter? He was humoring a nut. His answer was that this was absurdly unlikely, but okay, he could imagine some circumstances — as you apparently do — where it would be okay.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  38. @michael reynolds:

    i nominate you to write the script for the movie version of 24

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  39. Steve Verdon says:

    Did you even read Holder’s letter? He was humoring a nut. His answer was that this was absurdly unlikely, but okay, he could imagine some circumstances — as you apparently do — where it would be okay.

    Yes, I read it. But Holder didn’t answer the actual question.

    Paul’s concern: Overseas American citizens are being killed in drone strikes without any formal hearing, presentation of evidence, etc. Could that ever happen in the U.S.?

    If that is so batshit crazy, why isn’t Holder saying, “No, the Administration wont do that,” or something to that effect.

    Instead Holder went off on an unrelated tangent to the actual concern.

    Frankly, I don’t think it is batshit crazy that there might be armed drones used in the U.S. someday. Used in strikes that basically take a crap on the notion of habeas corpus? Probably not.

    Still, a clear answer would be nice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  40. Andy says:

    @Steve Verdon: What if? The government will get its ass sued, or there will be an outcry, or there will be investigation and potentially legislative action or all of the above. What we are unlikely to see is a majority of people who think dropping 115 pounds of precision laser-guided HE on some hermits is a grand idea which should be repeated whenever possible.

    And this is all assuming law enforcement actually acquires armed drones.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. michael reynolds says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    If that is so batshit crazy, why isn’t Holder saying, “No, the Administration wont do that,” or something to that effect.

    Because of all the possible cases you just listed, that’s why. He said basically if some crazy thing I can’t even imagine comes up then yeah. You want him to say never despite the fact that you and I both have examples of when it might be necessary.

    He said, No, it ain’t happening unless some crazy-ass Pearl Harbor scale thing I can’t even imagine happens. Why would he go beyond that to categorically rule out use of force in bizarre scenarios? What would be the point? We would all know it’s bullsh!t because we all know that in some extraordinary circumstance or other it could be necessary.

    Follow-up question: What about a zombie apocalypse, Mr. Holder, then could we drone their zombie asses or not? Are you saying the president would do nothing to protect us from zombies merely because those zombies are US citizens?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  42. al-Ameda says:

    All Holder was saying was we’re not precluding the use of force against enemies, even if they happen to be domestic. Holder referred to unusual circumstances.

    Could this type of force be improperly used? Of course. Would we have felt any differently about Waco/Koresh if a drone had been used instead of tanks? I do not know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  43. JKB says:

    You can argue the semantics all you want, but if the president orders a drone attack on anyone on US territory it is an open admission that the US no longer has positive control of that US territory, i.e., police action is not possible.

    Now, before the tangents start, this presumes there is not an invasion by enemy forces. Attack on rebels would in itself be a political question.

    Now, 9/11 was such a situation. The US no longer had positive control of the airplanes and there was not reasonable way to regain control or stop the imminent threat to others without the loss of the passengers, who were also under imminent threat of death.

    A nuclear weapon might be such a situation but a drone strike would be a high risk maneuver if US forces weren’t in someway prevented from exercising sovereign control of the area.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  44. Franklin says:

    I guess my main concern is we always seem to be drone-striking wedding parties and stuff in Pakistan. Hopefully they’ll be at least slightly more careful in America.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  45. C. Clavin says:

    This conversation is almost as dumb as Rand Paul.
    Is he the product of Kentucky public schools?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  46. C. Clavin says:

    The 2016 Republican primary circus is going to be hilarious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  47. C. Clavin says:

    Rand Paul…pride of Libertarianism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  48. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I told Doug a while back when he was hailing Rand Paul that there was something just wrong with that dude. He’s got Scientologist eyes. I strongly suspect he’s nuts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  49. mantis says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    Yes, I read it. But Holder didn’t answer the actual question.

    He didn’t answer your question. He did answer Paul’s question, which was if “the President has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.”

    You and Doug are upset because Holder didn’t answer the question you wish Paul had asked instead the one he actually did ask. Shooting down the airliners on 9/11 would fit into Paul’s parameters. Would that not have been okay if a drone did it? So would a coup, etc.

    At least your question is important deserves an answer, even if Paul didn’t really ask it. Doug’s…

    The question that we all deserve an answer to, I think, is whether the Administration sees a day where Predator drones are roaming American skies looking for American citizens to strike at, regardless of the reason.

    is just idiotic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  50. Dazedandconfused says:

    Heard on the tube Justice providing an answer to Rands loaded questions was the price for getting Bremmer out of committee. Holder either says it might be legal sometime or never-ever. What can he do? Looks to me they got the chew-toy they were begging for.

    Alwaki was fingered by the undie-bomber, and there was another undie-bomber attempt reported to have come from that group reported. “As far as you know” there was no “imminent” attack struck me as quite obtuse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  51. anjin-san says:

    @ Steve Verdon

    Hysteria is unbecoming in a grown man. If no one has ever told you this, I’m telling you now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  52. al-Ameda says:

    @C. Clavin:

    This conversation is almost as dumb as Rand Paul.
    Is he the product of Kentucky public schools?

    I doubt that Rand attended any public schools.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  53. Washington Post, Friday, June 18, 2004; Page A01:

    At 10:39 on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Vice President Cheney, in a bunker beneath the White House, told Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in a videoconference that he had been informed earlier that morning that hijacked planes were approaching Washington.

    “Pursuant to the president’s instructions, I gave authorization for them to be taken out,” Cheney told Rumsfeld … .

    Cheney, who told the commission he was operating on instructions from Bush given in a phone call, issued authority for aircraft threatening Washington to be shot down.

    The facts are somewhat more complex than this excerpt; read the whole thing. And the orders Cheney says he gave were never relayed to fighter pilots in the air.

    Nonetheless, they were given.

    President George Washington personally led state-provided militia in the field against Americans in the Whiskey Rebellion, though no fighting took place.

    And of course Lincoln killed hundreds of thousands of American citizens with nary a syllable of regret.

    No defender of this administration am I, but I think this is a tempest in a teapot. Holder’s blunder was even including talk about extraordinary circumstances.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  54. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I’m wondering why Holder brought up 9/11 and Pearl Harbor, but didn’t mention Waco and Ruby Ridge?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  55. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    And it’s fascinating to see what it takes the hard left around here to turn on Obama and his cronies. All it took in this case was for Tsar Nick to say he agreed with Holder.

    What shallow convictions you have…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  56. Rob in CT says:

    the hard left around here

    Hahahahaha.

    As to the topic, this is terrible, for all the obvious reasons.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  57. Tyrell says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Sherman: yes, we haven’t forgotten about that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  58. C. Clavin says:

    Jenos…you are such a stupid f’er it defies description.
    In Waco and Ruby Ridge there were warrants and court dates and judiicial process, oh my…
    Seriously…you need to read about, and understand, the Dunning-Kruger effect. Then study it some more. The read it again. The have someone explain it to you…slowly…and in small words that you can understand.
    This is not about disagreement…this is about you being incapable of grasping basic concepts and real world ideas.
    You need help. Help is available. We can do it for you. You must take the first step.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  59. C. Clavin says:

    @ M. Reynolds…

    “…He’s got Scientologist eyes…”

    A Kim Carnes reference? Nice!!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  60. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: So, 9/11 and Pearl Harbor are better responses to Paul’s letter than Waco and Ruby Ridge? Where American citizens who had not been charged with any crimes were confronted by paramilitary law-enforcement types (snipers and armored vehicles) and died, versus foreign attacks on Americans?

    The warrant was for Randy Weaver, who survived; not his wife and son, who were shot and killed. And in Waco, there were only a few people facing warrants.

    I have my own opinions of those two incidents that do not involve the fever-swamp conspiracy theories, but they do form better parallels than 9/11/01 and 12/7/41. And for Holder to use them are a deliberate non-answer to a fundamentally critical question.

    I submit that your comments show that you are, to paraphrase, “that effing dishonest.” You’ve got your one note — “Dunning-Kruger Effect” — that you sound on your little horn at every opportunity and hope that it makes you look smart and superior. Go back to your Psychology 101 teacher and tell him/her/it that you would like to learn a little something more than that one term.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  61. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: It just struck me: quite possibly the most well-known sufferer of your favorite condition is your own namesake.

    I picked my name because it was a pseudonym for a fictional character, as well as one of the more subtle and clever metareferences I’d ever encountered, and I liked it. Did you pick yours as a form of subconscious admission of your own shortcomings?

    Ironically, the actor who portrayed your namesake also had a small role in one of the Star Wars movies…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  62. grumpy realist says:

    I could see the use of drones/missiles/whatever if the US lost control of a portion of the US. In other words, if war in all its Shermanesque aspects came to the US.

    The question that was not asked by Rand (but should have been) is: are we going to be as casual about picking targets for drones in the US as we have been in Afghanistan?

    I think, reading between the lines of Holder’s answer, that his belief is “no.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  63. C. Clavin says:

    “…I have my own opinions of those two incidents that do not involve the fever-swamp conspiracy theories…”

    Are you serious???
    That’s all you have…fever swamp theories…whether it’s Waco or Ruby Ridge or Fast and Furious or Banghazi…and on and on and on…
    You are psychotic…so out of touch with reality you don’t realize how deep in the fever swamp you are…and you are in need professional help.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  64. matt bernius says:

    A challenge for @michael reynolds and @Jenos Idanian #13 amoung others:

    Can either of you reconicle how — given the positions you’ve taken in the past on Administration sanctioned torture/”enhanced interrogation” — you can manage to essentially flip your respective positions on this issue?

    @michael reynolds, in particular, I have a hard time seeing how the scenario you lay out is all that different from the “ticking timebomb” scenario torture advocates like John Yoo used to justify the use of waterboarding. I mean @Doug Mataconis: really nailed it right here with the “24” movie thing.

    I think any talented writer (and I include you in that category) can come up with a situation to justify anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  65. matt bernius says:

    BTW, I especially extend the above challenge to any of the more “liberally minded” folks here who railed against Bush era torture policies… how is this any different?

    Especially given the way Holder justified it, I don’t see how you can oppose torture and be ok with this.

    Of course, on the flip side, I don’t see how one can support enhanced interrogation, especially in the ticking-time bomb scenario, and object to this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  66. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @matt bernius: There are many important distinctions between the two issues. One is that the “enhanced interrogations” were conducted on non-American citizens, and on foreign soil. Another is that the subjects survived, physically unharmed.

    The targeted assassinations by the Obama administration have been against at least one American citizen who had never been formally charged with any crimes.

    What I’m finding amusingly hypocritical is that the left howls in protest over the waterboarding of some very, very bad people, but turns a blind eye towards the deliberate assassination of American ctiizens. And, occasionally, the deaths of underage Americans as collateral damage.

    Apparently to the left, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (citizen of Kuwait) has more civil rights than Anwar Al-Awlaki (citizen of the US).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  67. C. Clavin says:

    “…I have a hard time seeing how the scenario you lay out is all that different from the “ticking timebomb” scenario torture advocates like John Yoo used to justify the use of waterboarding…”

    My $00.02…
    On the face they are similar…there will inevitably be extremely rare situations where the rules get tossed.
    Cheney ordering Flight 93 shot down is not dissimilar.
    But the difference lies in the fact that what Holder describes has never happened, according to the letter is not intended to ever happen, and was in answer to a hypothetical question. Frankly it reminds me of a stoned discussion in an undergrad dorm.
    What Yoo described was a rationalization for the intended institutionalization of torture…which of course then occured repeatedly.
    One man…that we know of…was waterboarded 183 times…that is NOT a ticking time bomb situation by any stretch of a stoned undergrad imagination.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  68. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’m wondering why Holder brought up 9/11 and Pearl Harbor, but didn’t mention Waco and Ruby Ridge?

    Perhaps because he had a hand in planning both.

    I’m wondering why he didn’t mention Vince Foster?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  69. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “I picked my name because it was a pseudonym for a fictional character, as well as one of the more subtle and clever metareferences I’d ever encountered, ”

    Dude, you stole some name from a Star Wars tie-in novel. Believe it or not, this does not make you Umberto Eco.

    “Metareferences.” No longer just a clueless moron, now a pompous, clueless moron.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  70. MBunge says:

    @matt bernius: “I especially extend the above challenge to any of the more “liberally minded” folks here who railed against Bush era torture policies… how is this any different?”

    One is a military strike. The other is torturing prisoners. If you can’t see the difference between them, you’ve completely lost perspective.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  71. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “What I’m finding amusingly hypocritical is that the left howls in protest over the waterboarding of some very, very bad people, but turns a blind eye towards the deliberate assassination of American ctiizens. And, occasionally, the deaths of underage Americans as collateral damage. ”

    And:

    “And it’s fascinating to see what it takes the hard left around here to turn on Obama and his cronies. All it took in this case was for Tsar Nick to say he agreed with Holder.

    What shallow convictions you have… ”

    So in the space of four hours you’ve whined about how icky libs are because they mindlessly follow leader Obama AND because they don’t mindlessly follow Obama.

    Nice trick there, loser. Oh, sorry — make that metaloser.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  72. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @wr: Here, let me put that in a way you might understand better:

    Me pick name ‘cuz it tickle me.

    That clearer, or should I try to get it down to all one-syllable words?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  73. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @wr: You’re the side with the cognitive dissonance going. You have no problems with Obama’s targeted assassinations of Americans until Nick says he supports it. And then you don’t attack Obama or Holder, but Nicky.

    It’s understandable. It’s always easier to attack than defend, and attacking Little Nicky gives you an excuse to not actually discuss the issue.

    Reprehensible and indefensible, but understandable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  74. C. Clavin says:

    “metaloser”
    hehe…
    metamaroon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  75. Moosebreath says:

    @matt bernius:

    ““liberally minded” folks here who railed against Bush era torture policies… how is this any different?”

    I can justify using military force against citizens (whether by drone, tank, attack helicopter, etc. — to me there is no distinction between them) in exactly one circumstance — that the citizens are in the process of imminently attempting to attack other citizens in such a manner that local police are unable to prevent the attack. The torture cases as actually used by the Bush Administration had no imminent attack which is being prevented by it, and since the perpetrator is in custody, police are able to prevent the attack.

    And what Cliffy said on the ticking timebomb rationalization.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  76. C. Clavin says:

    What is described herein is not a hypothetical response to some spoiled frat boy senator…
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/06/pentagon-iraqi-torture-centres-link

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  77. matt bernius says:

    @C. Clavin:
    While I get what you are trying to say, I don’t see the difference. The issue is the lack of an explicit “bright line” — i.e what will we not cross in the case of the “ticking time bomb.”

    Which get’s to what @MBunge wrote:

    One is a military strike. The other is torturing prisoners. If you can’t see the difference between them, you’ve completely lost perspective.

    I really don’t think I have, especially given historical use of drones for targeted assassinations.

    Perhaps the issue that this ties into is preemption vs. reaction.

    The “ticking time bomb” scenario is about preemption – preventing the explosion from happening.

    One can argue that Holder’s point is about reaction – dealing with an attack already underway (to other’s points above, see Cheney/Flight 93).

    However, in the case of Anwar Al-Awlaki and many other drone strikes, it’s largely been cases of preemption. And to @michael reynolds scenario above — or the case of Pearl Harbor — is it the case that government has to wait until the domestic attack is underway in order for it to respond with lethal force via drones?

    It would be helpful if Holder had explicitly commented on that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  78. gVOR08 says:

    @Steve Verdon: Just FYI, Dick Cheney, claiming authorization from the president did order civil airliners shot down on 911. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50745-2004Jun17.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  79. matt bernius says:

    For the record, I don’t have an issue with the idea of a drones being deployed to stop an in progress massive attack in a scenario where other military forces would be called in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  80. superdestroyer says:

    @michael reynolds:

    MR

    It is nice to see progressives selling out their principles for partisanship. The water carrying that progressives are doing these days reinforces the belief of many that the anti-war groups like Code Pink were more of anti-Bush groups than anti-war groups.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  81. C. Clavin says:

    @ matt…
    I think you are conflating overseas drone strikes, against unlawful combatants, with the Holder memo…which explicitly uses 9.11 and Pearl Harbor as examples where use of deadly force by the military is justified.
    Had Al-Awlaki been in Falls Church, Virginia calling for jihad against Amerrica instead of being in Yemen….then law enforcement would be best suited to deal with threats “in this country” as the memo very clearly states.
    Unfortunately for him he was in Yemen…as was a Hellfire missile with his name on it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  82. C. Clavin says:

    So Superdope…
    You would not have launched drones against the Kamikazes in 1941?
    Good to know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  83. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    anti-war groups like Code Pink were more of anti-Bush groups than anti-war groups.

    Code Pink was completely irrelevant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  84. C. Clavin says:

    @ al-Ameda…
    Well yeah…OK…except that CodePink was absolutely right…Iraq was a war of choice that never should have happened.
    Superdope is confusing very different things in his/her little head in a vain attempt to make a meaningless partisan point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  85. matt bernius says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I think you are conflating against unlawful combatants, with the Holder memo…

    You are entirely right, and that is intentional on my part.

    Had Al-Awlaki been in Falls Church, Virginia calling for jihad against Amerrica instead of being in Yemen

    Just to be clear, the justification for the Al-Awlaki drone strike — last I checked — was not what Al-Awlaki’s speech, but rather that he was participating/leading the planning of attacks against American targets.

    If we’re playing scenarios:
    What do we do if the next Al-Awlaki is planning attacks on Americans from a place, inside the US, that is extremely difficult for Law Enforcement to safely access. It’s not an entirely impossible scenario, especially in a near future filled with drones.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  86. Ben Wolf says:

    1) The President should have authority to protect the country in any way necessary during a time of war.

    2) The war will never end.

    3) The President will determine what level of force is necessary to deal with you should he decide you represent a threat to national security. To determine whether you represent a threat to national security he may, at his descretion:

    a) Suspend your 4th Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure.

    4) If the President, using information obtained by suspending your 4th Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure, decides you represent a threat to national security he may, at his discretion:

    a) Suspend your 5th Amendment right to due process, to indictment and to trial.

    b) Suspend your 6th Amendment right to an attorney.

    c) Indefinitely detain you until such time as you confess or the President releases you.

    d) Suspend your 8th Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment.

    You may not challenge your classification as a threat to national security.

    You may not know the reasons for which you were detained.

    Because the President has ordered the information against you be kept secret, you cannot challenge your detention in a court of law.

    5) Should the President decide the evidence against you is sufficient to label you an intolerable threat to national security, he may also:

    a) Suspend your right to life stated in the Pre-amble

    b) Suspend your 8th Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment.

    c) Execute you and anyone physically near you (collateral damage).

    And no, neither you or your attorney may see the evidence against you. Ever.

    You may not challenge your classification as a threat to national security.

    You may not appeal to a court of law to lift or stay your execution.

    I’m sorry, the difference between the OTB commentariat and National Review on this issue is . . . ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  87. superdestroyer says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Then why did the media give them so much free publicity?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  88. Ben Wolf says:

    @matt bernius:

    Just to be clear, the justification for the Al-Awlaki drone strike — last I checked — was not what Al-Awlaki’s speech, but rather that he was participating/leading the planning of attacks against American targets.

    They don’t always bother to offer justification, although they always refuse to show the evidence.

    There is still no reason given for the murder of his son two weeks later, other than Carney’s glib “he should have chosen better parents” remark.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  89. C. Clavin says:

    @ matt…

    “…that is extremely difficult for Law Enforcement to safely access…”

    Do you mean if….say…Lex Luther took over Superman’s Fortress of Solitude???
    Your argument has devolved to the ridiculous.
    My guess is that if Al-Awlaki can get there…our Law Enforcement agencies can get there.
    I know Republicans and Libertarians think the dark skinned men with turbans are super-scary…but I assure you they are not super-human.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  90. C. Clavin says:

    @ Superdope…
    Again…Code Pink was dead right about Iraq…you were dead f’ing wrong.
    When you come to terms with your own short-comings…get back to us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  91. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    A few points.

    1. Kamakazies did not exist in 1941 and when they were used in 1945, they were against military targets. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamikaze
    2. The entire military exists to defend the U.S., the thought that the White House needs direct control of drones is laughable. Besides if the CIA is using them, they are forbidden to operate inside the U.S.
    3. If someone or something is attacking the U.S., then the National Command Authority http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Command_Authority instructs the combatant commanders to take action per the law. I thought progressives wanted to bring back the rule of law.
    4. If someone is planning to attack the U.S. inside the U.S., the Department of Defense does not have the authority to act on it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posse_Comitatus_Act
    4. The real question is can be president pick targets inside the U.S and order either the CIA or the Department of Defense to attack them and the legal answer is no.

    I find it odd that progressives are willing to throw all of the principles and the written law under the bus just so they can be snarky to conservatives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  92. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Once again, if progressives did not have snark, they would have nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  93. Steve Verdon says:

    @Andy:

    Good luck with that Andy, sovereign immunity is a powerful shield to penetrate.

    @michael reynolds:

    For the love of God…

    Michael, just because the use of drones during an invasion is okay, it shouldn’t stop Holder from saying, “No we wont use drones on mere suspects who are citizens within the United States.”

    He said, No, it ain’t happening unless some crazy-ass Pearl Harbor scale thing I can’t even imagine happens. Why would he go beyond that to categorically rule out use of force in bizarre scenarios? What would be the point? We would all know it’s bullsh!t because we all know that in some extraordinary circumstance or other it could be necessary.

    Holder is leaving the door open, if just very slightly open with his letter. He does not say “No, the use of drones against American citizens is not an option.”

    @al-Ameda:

    Could this type of force be improperly used? Of course. Would we have felt any differently about Waco/Koresh if a drone had been used instead of tanks? I do not know.

    Or Ruby Ridge. This is exactly how I could see the use of armed drones coming about. And given mission creep it would go from there. Just like how Gopher’s Crotch Arkansas with 1 murder ever 20 years has a SWAT team….and uses it….to preserve evidence in drug busts on non-violent suspects…which can and has led to the death of American citizens, including cops.

    @mantis:

    You and Doug are upset because Holder didn’t answer the question you wish Paul had asked instead the one he actually did ask. Shooting down the airliners on 9/11 would fit into Paul’s parameters. Would that not have been okay if a drone did it? So would a coup, etc.

    I also think that the house full of suspected terrorists fits the parameters as well.

    And regarding an airliner that has been hijacked and likely to be used as a crude missile, I’d classify that as an open attack on the U.S. I wouldn’t be nearly as put out of the decision is the plane has to be shot down because they are going to fly it into X and cause 10x the number of death vs. shooting down the plane. It is a horrible decision, but I see it as different from deciding, in secret, to blow up a house somewhere because they think the people inside might be terrorists…who may or may not be plotting to do something.

    And given the number of wrong door SWAT raids and the lackadaisical approach to checking into the target of a raid and instances of outright lying to get warrants for raids….yeah its disquieting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  94. bk says:

    @anjin-san:

    grown man

    You’re assuming facts not in evidence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  95. Steve Verdon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Follow-up question: What about a zombie apocalypse, Mr. Holder, then could we drone their zombie asses or not? Are you saying the president would do nothing to protect us from zombies merely because those zombies are US citizens?

    Drones wouldn’t work that well…depending on the zombie (e.g. the traditional kind, rather slow moving that need to have their brains destroyed). Sure a drone strike would likely blow up a few, but taking out large numbers would be difficult. And even a wounded zombie would keep going (as best it could).

    My guess is our military would have a tough time. Our current approach is shock-and-awe and you can’t shock or awe a zombie into not fighting. Shooting center mass is not going to do much either.

    Try reading World War Z. Surprisingly good book on how humanity would win a zombie war. Too bad the movie with Brad Pitt is going to deviate massively from the book. :(

    Oh, and I don’t think a dead person is considered a citizen, so no issue shooting the zed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  96. C. Clavin says:

    @ Dope…
    Agreeing with the Holder memo that 1). in the case of Pearl Harbor or 9.11 the President, as CinC, has authority to use military force and that 2). in the case of threats “in country” law enforcement is best suited…is not contradictory to any principle or as far as I know written law.
    In fact giving the order to shoot down that plane is the singular thing that Cheney got right on or after 9.11.
    You are making shit up and arguing with straw men in order to…well who knows what your motives are ever…outside your ugly racist streak.. You need to figure that out for yourself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  97. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    @al-Ameda:
    Then why did the media give them so much free publicity?

    Because the media like to run the occasional “Bezerkely” story, do you know what I mean?

    Not withstanding the fact that they were correct to object to the War in Iraq as a completely unnecessary war, Code Pink was almost completely irrelevant as a political force of any influence at all. Code Pink had the same influence on political decision makers as Tim Pawlenty had on the recent presidential election – 0.0000000001%

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  98. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I find it odd that progressives believe that arguing the law and corresponding regulation are a strawman and/or fictional but imaging that the White House needs to single handed-ly lead the resistance to a Pearl Harbor type attack is rational.

    The only thing anyone needs to ask themselves is whether progressives would be supporting the use of armed drones inside the U.S. if Romney were president. I would still be pointing out the same laws and the law policies while progressives would be spinning themselves in knots to justify not doing something.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  99. Barry says:

    @David K.: “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.”

    Doug already covered the ‘invasion’ case. The question here, which you are deliberately trying to dodge, are kills of choice, so to speak. Can the US government kill US citizens within the USA, when there is no obvious constitutionally-justified need, and claim necessity?

    BTW, this will be based on classified information.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  100. C. Clavin says:

    “…The only thing anyone needs to ask themselves is whether progressives would be supporting the use of armed drones inside the U.S. if Romney were president…”

    Sure…in the case of a Pearl Harbor or 9.11 but otherwise law enforcement is best suited…WTF is your problem? Are you really this stupid…or do you think it’s smart to say stupid shit on the internet???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  101. C. Clavin says:

    @ Superdope…
    I have stated at least twice above, and other “progressives” have as well, that Cheney made the right call in ordering flight 93 shot down.
    Do you have a problem with reading comprehension?
    Is the world too complex for you?
    Do you have trouble keeping two ideas in your head at the same time?
    Is being reflexively contrarian how you satisfy your need for attention?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  102. Moosebreath says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    “Michael, just because the use of drones during an invasion is okay, it shouldn’t stop Holder from saying, “No we wont use drones on mere suspects who are citizens within the United States.”

    He said, No, it ain’t happening unless some crazy-ass Pearl Harbor scale thing I can’t even imagine happens. Why would he go beyond that to categorically rule out use of force in bizarre scenarios? What would be the point? We would all know it’s bullsh!t because we all know that in some extraordinary circumstance or other it could be necessary.

    Holder is leaving the door open, if just very slightly open with his letter. He does not say “No, the use of drones against American citizens is not an option.””

    In a case where citizens are making war on the US government, or attacking other citizens in a way that the police cannot stop them, are you only opposed to the use of drones? Or do you think there is some difference between using drones on the one hand, and tanks or fighter planes on the other. If so, what differences do you see?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  103. matt bernius says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    Michael, just because the use of drones during an invasion is okay, it shouldn’t stop Holder from saying, “No we wont use drones on mere suspects who are citizens within the United States.” Holder is leaving the door open, if just very slightly open with his letter. He does not say “No, the use of drones against American citizens is not an option.”

    And regarding an airliner that has been hijacked and likely to be used as a crude missile, I’d classify that as an open attack on the U.S.

    Agreed Steve — and this is my point on the question of preemption versus reaction to event in progress.

    Holder’s letter implies that drones would only be used in response to an event in progress. However, the definition of “in progress” is flexible, and it seems to me that the response is about leaving the door open to ensure the widest amount of flexibility. And as always, one’s opinion on said flexibility has a lot to do with what one thinks of the people seeking said flexibility.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  104. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    But if the U.S. was being attacked, the president would have the entire Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and 50 states with of law enforcement to resist.

    My guess is that progressives would spend years after a sneak attack nitpicking and second guessing if the President was a Republican but would spend decades carrying the water for any Democrat who was president.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  105. C. Clavin says:

    @ Superdope…

    “…But if the U.S. was being attacked, the president would have the entire Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and 50 states with of law enforcement to resist…”

    Yes…and he or she would be the C in C of the Department of Defense etc…WTF is your point?

    “…My guess…”

    Your guess? There is no basis at all to grant your guess any credibility at all.
    Again…Code Pink was dead on about Iraq…you were dead wrong.
    Your judgment is suspect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  106. Moosebreath says:

    @C. Clavin:

    As near as I can tell, his, Steve Verdon and matt bernius’s point all are that killing someone by a drone is a violation of their Constitutional rights, but killing them with a RPG is not. Otherwise, I see no reason why they are fixating upon the use of drones, and no other weapon, against citizens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  107. C. Clavin says:

    @ Moose…
    It’s interesting…I work in a field that has moved from pencils to computers…and some have struggled mightly with the transition. To me they are just different tools to the same end.
    It makes no difference to me if OBL got shot point blank in the face by a member of Seal Team 6…or some geek sitting at a computer terminal in Tampa, FL put a Hellfire up his ass.
    At the end of the day no one is whining about Seal Team 6 shooting that f’er. How many Congresscritters are in that infamous foto of the Situation room during the raid? So why whine about the drones? There should be oversight…probably judicial. Let me know when this incompetent Congress pulls that together.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  108. matt bernius says:

    @Moosebreath:

    As near as I can tell, his, Steve Verdon and matt bernius’s point all are that killing someone by a drone is a violation of their Constitutional rights, but killing them with a RPG is not. Otherwise, I see no reason why they are fixating upon the use of drones, and no other weapon, against citizens.

    I’m focusing on drones simply because that is the topic at hand. The War on Terror — not to mention emergent technologies including drones — have transformed the way we (as a nation) are conducting internal and external security.

    My point — at least — is if Holder intended to say we would only employ drones in cases where we would normally bring the full force of the Military to bear, he should have phrased it that way or offer a subsequent clarification.

    This is different — or at least more subtle — than buying it Rand Paul’s hyperbole about using a drone to take someone out in a cafe.

    But, pretending that a Drone = RPG is as problematic a dodge as someone suggesting that an AR-15 = a semiautomatic hunting rifle. The fact is that the drone’s affordances fundamentally transform and extend killing capacities. All one has to do is look at the rapid increase in US targeted killings abroad to appreciate the way drone have transformed warfare.

    And given how aggressive domestic policing has become in the war on terror (in particular with entrapment), not to mention the militarization of the police, call me cynical, but I’d like to see some brightlines clearly drawn about the usage of new technologies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  109. mantis says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    I also think that the house full of suspected terrorists fits the parameters as well.

    I agree, and that is because Paul’s question was too broad. The answer was appropriately broad.

    It is a horrible decision, but I see it as different from deciding, in secret, to blow up a house somewhere because they think the people inside might be terrorists…who may or may not be plotting to do something.

    I agree, but I think Holder makes quite clear that law enforcement is well equipped to handle such a circumstance. You seem to want to put words in his mouth that his broad answer to Paul’s question is actually an answer to your narrow question. Imagine Paul had asked this question:

    “Could the president authorize lethal force against an American citizen on US soil, without trial, who does not pose an immediate threat or could be detained/disabled through other means?”

    If Holder answered that maybe he could, I would be right alongside you in your criticism. Paul didn’t ask that though, and Holder answered Paul’s question correctly.

    And given the number of wrong door SWAT raids and the lackadaisical approach to checking into the target of a raid and instances of outright lying to get warrants for raids….yeah its disquieting.

    This is really a separate issue (law enforcement vs. military), but obviously an important one and a good point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  110. grumpy realist says:

    Anyone who thinks that there is a location in the US that has a “house of suspected terrorists” (note–just suspected, not convicted) and that law enforcement agents wouldn’t be able to get to them?

    C’mon–there’s a great difference between dealing with the situation under “peace” and under “war”.

    In fact, I can’t think of a time outside of attack by the mutant zombie monsters that above said situation couldn’t be handled by the local cops and FBI. Anyone?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  111. Moosebreath says:

    @matt bernius:

    “My point — at least — is if Holder intended to say we would only employ drones in cases where we would normally bring the full force of the Military to bear, he should have phrased it that way or offer a subsequent clarification.

    This is different — or at least more subtle — than buying it Rand Paul’s hyperbole about using a drone to take someone out in a cafe.”

    With all respect, I think this is _exactly_ what Holder was saying. Specifically, he said, “It is possible, I supposed, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.” (emphasis added). It’s also why he gave the specific examples of Pearl Harbor and 9-11.

    And yet Paul is having a fit (and Steve Verdon at least seems be having the same one) over anything less than a total ban on drones being used within the borders. He is not limiting it to the situation where it is used within a cafe, but instead saying “The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening – it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  112. al-Ameda says:

    @C. Clavin:

    There should be oversight…probably judicial. Let me know when this incompetent Congress pulls that together.

    (1) It is so tempting to say, in the context of this malevolent and incompetent Republican Congress, that Congressional Oversight should never be a part of the Drone Program, however, there may come a day when stupid voters stop electing those guys to he Senate and House, and we can safely conduct Congressional Oversight.

    (2) This incompetent Congress will not pull that oversight thing together.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  113. Moosebreath says:

    @Moosebreath:

    And to make this matter even clearer, the Attorney General has issued a clarification specifically stating that drones will only be used in this country against people whom other military options would be used.

    However, since this does not say that drones cannot be used against an American citizen on American soil, I expect this will not satisfy Paul.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  114. mantis says:

    @Moosebreath:

    However, since this does not say that drones cannot be used against an American citizen on American soil, I expect this will not satisfy Paul.

    Actually, it is:

    Appearing on CNN on Thursday afternoon, Paul declared that Holder’s response was satisfactory and that he would allow a vote on Brennan’s nomination.

    “I’m quite happy with the answer and I’m disappointed it took a month and a half and a root canal to get it,” Paul said.

    Yes, well, phrase your questions more carefully next time, Randy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  115. Moosebreath says:

    @mantis:

    If Paul wants to proclaim a victory for getting the Administration to say it hasn’t changed it’s position from its previous answer, I am more than happy to let him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0